By: George Potter
With the Seattle Kraken becoming the newest team in the league, it is hard to say how the team will do in their inaugural season. With some talented players like Jordan Eberle, Mark Girodarno, Jaden Schwartz, Yannick Gourde and the second overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft tMatthew Beniers, the Kraken look like they have a promising future. However, the biggest thing to watch is their goaltending situation. No matter what happens Seattle’s goaltending game is promising for this upcoming season and for the future of the franchise.
The Seattle Kraken had selected former Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger who served as a backup goaltender for Sergei Bobrovsky last season. Driedger signed a 3- year contract worth $10.5 million dollars after the expansion draft.
Despite being a backup he still had an impressive performance last season with a record of 14-6-3 in 23 games with a save percentage of .927 and a goals-against-average of 2.07. According to Colby Guy from the Hockey writers Driedger can be very reliable if he is needed for the job when the opportunity is given to him.
Despite selecting from the Washington Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek, the Kraken were able to stun the hockey world by signing Colorado Avalanche Goaltender and Vezina Trophy finalist Phillip Grubauer to 6 year 35.4 million dollar contract. Then the Kraken eventually traded Vanecek back to the Washington Capitals for a second round draft pick in the 2023 draft.
Grubauer has seen success in previous seasons during his time with the Washington Capitals he won the Stanley Cup in 2018 while serving as a backup for Braden Holtby. Last season he had been a big contribution to the Avalanche’s president’s trophy victory with an outstanding regular season record of 30-9-1, a .922 save percentage and a goals against average of 1.95. He had also helped lead the Avalanche to a playoff run that ended in a heartbreak over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Francis saw Grubauer as a player who had proven himself over his entire career to be a player who can compete at the highest level of the game.
“I think you look at his save percentage, his goals against lately. Look at how he played last year in the playoffs, the fact that he was a finalist for the vezina. I mean, he’s had a pretty good run,” said Francis, quoted in 710am ESPN Seattle.
From what it seems Grubauer could without a doubt be Seattle's first starting goaltender in franchise history. In addition has shown confidence in possibly achieving success with the franchise with a goal in mind to achieve the same success as the Golden knights did in their first season.
“I think it is incredible to be a part of something new and make history in terms of playing the first ever game and being a part of that group,” said Grubauer quoted in 710am ESPN Seattle.
Even if the Seattle Kraken do not achieve the same success the Vegas Golden knights did by making a Stanley cup run in their first season. It will most likely be a memorable first season that sports fans living in the Emerald City will never forget.
In the Seattle expansion draft the Kraken selected from the Ottawa Senators goaltender Joey Daccord who only served as a third string goaltender last year. Daccord had a record of 1-3-1 with only 8 games with the Senators from this season. His season was short due to suffering a long term injury during a game against the Vancouver Canucks in the third period of the game.
Daccord had performed very well in the 2018-19 NCAA season with the Arizona State Sun Devils with a record of 21-13-1 with a save percentage of .926. In addition to playing effectively in the AHL and ECHL in the previous year of the 2019-20 season.
The Senators have multiple goaltending prospects that have a chance with the minding the net, therefore, Daccord going to the Kraken was not a huge loss for the Ottawa. Hopefully he can get a better chance at the net very soon with the Kraken and play effectively.
The interesting part is what the Kraken was able to get in the NHL entry draft in the 6th round in the 163rd selection was Russian goaltender from Toplar Ufa, Semyon Vyazovoy.
Vyazovoy’s record was 14-9-1 in 26 games, with a save percentage of .939 and a goals against average of 2.06. According to the Draft Analysis Vyazovoy’s playing style has put him as the number one goaltender of the Junior Hockey League (MHL) in Russia. Even scout Josh Tessler tweeted about how Vyazovoy’s playing style can pull off good reflexes in his athleticism to make saves in dangerous situations.
For now Vyazovoy has not signed with Kraken as of yet and who knows if will sign an entry level contract in the future. But, one thing for sure that it will be very exciting to see him hopefully perform at the elite level of hockey.